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Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:55 pm on 20th December 2004.

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Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North 6:55 pm, 20th December 2004

I disagree strongly with my right hon. Friend Mr. Denham. He said that he could not understand why there should be such concern and controversy. I serve on the Home Affairs Committee, which he chairs, and he will know that we have had many disagreements on this. I could not agree with the majority report of the Home Affairs Committee. I made my opposition clear and proposed an amendment or minority report.

If it is true that there were serious disagreements in the Cabinet some months previously and in the shadow Cabinet only last week, I would not exploit that; I would be very pleased. I would think it depressing if either the Cabinet or the shadow Cabinet had agreed on such a serious subject without much controversy. If the press reports are true—members of the Cabinet have not told me about this—there was proper consideration, discussion and apparently disagreement, and I see no reason why not.

I want to make it perfectly clear tonight, as I have done previously, that if I was persuaded that identity cards would help to stop terrorism or undermine it substantially, I would support them, whatever reluctance I may have on grounds of civil liberties, because the safety and security of this country must come first and foremost. But I am not so persuaded.

As I and many other hon. Members have often said, the atrocities in Madrid and Istanbul took place despite the existence of identity cards. When the previous Home Secretary came before the Select Committee and I asked him whether ID cards with biometric details—all that he emphasises—would have prevented such atrocities, he said no.